If all the proposed coal-fired power plants in India and China are set up, the additional carbon dioxide emission will be many times the cuts proposed by the Kyoto Protocol, according to a report by Standard & Poor’s.
The Kyoto protocol envisages controlling atmospheric carbon dioxide at the level of 500 parts per million.
The report by S&P’s Aneesh Prabhu from New York and Kim Eng Tan of Singapore says that coal consumption is likely to grow by 3 per cent every year in India and China over the next 30 years, which is far higher than the 0.6 per cent increase likely in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.
The report says that the Indian stance on the issue is complicating issues. "India believes that it has not significantly contributed to the global stock of greenhouse gases that reside in the atmosphere." Citing the ethical aspects of climate change’s economic impact, it contends that uncompensated mitigation by developing countries would slow economic growth and poverty reduction efforts.
Reacting to the report, Greenpeace’s energy expert K Srinivas said, "We have submitted a proposal to reduce coal dependence for our energy sector to 10 per cent by 2050. Right now coal accounts for 67 per cent of our energy needs," he said.
"Currently India releases around 1,100 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. In the next five years this level can double if India goes ahead with the plan to achieve energy sufficiency based on coal-based power," he added.
India is third at the moment in the carbon intensity sweepstakes, which measures carbon dioxide emissions per $1000 of GDP. The S&P report says that various energy efficiency measures can reduce greenhouse gas intensity in India by a third. Srinivas of Greenpeace feels that energy efficiency can, in fact, reduce our energy demand by 50 per cent.
The S&P report adds that coal-fired power plants remain the cheapest and at the same time the dirtiest power source for India and China. "The extent to which rapidly developing nations will be able to shift away from coal-fired generation and towards low-carbon energy investments is crucial to reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide."